5 top tips on ensuring cargo safety

According to recent statistics, truck hijacking has cost South Africa over R3 billion in the past year. This not only affects the trucking companies, but also the businesses that sent or were meant to receive the goods involved in the hijacking. This places cargo safety top of mind to most transporters and consumers who rely on their goods being transported.

However, when it comes to the safety precautions that are used in transport, older, more basic safety measures aren’t as effective anymore. Criminals are continuously getting better at doing what they do best, making the protection of different companies’ livelihood much more difficult.

While no cargo or package being transported is completely immune to the risk of theft, for transport companies, there are ways to reduce your exposure to dangerous scenarios with the following tips:

1. Develop a company culture of security

Firstly, ensure that the people you employ are trustworthy.

Where permitted, include background investigations and drug screenings when you hire employees to join your business. Conduct mandatory security and ethics training, so employees know what to look for and how to report suspicious events.

As long as your drivers are trustworthy, you already eliminate one of the possibilities of the occurrence of theft, and you have more peace of mind when sending a delivery out.

2. Pick-up and delivery protocols

If your protocols and procedures are efficient, the delivery process should be smooth sailing.

Make sure that drivers are always properly identified and that they know exactly where and when they need to deliver their loads. It’s also important for them to know exactly who the person is they should be dealing with when delivering the goods.

This tie backs to the previous point as well—employ people who can be trusted. If they know the exact details of where they should be going, there’s no possibility of miscommunication causing goods to go missing or damage to the cargo.

3. Keep moving

The longer a loaded trailer or container sits unattended, the higher the risk for theft.

Thieves prefer not to confront a driver, so they will look for times when a truck is unattended. Make sure drivers are clear on trip planning. This includes identifying fuel stops, locations to layover and safe, monitored rest stops.

Instruct drivers to wait until they’ve travelled at least 300 kilometres before they stop, unless there’s an emergency. Some thieves will follow trucks until the drivers stop, waiting for a moment when they might leave the truck unattended. However, the chances of someone following a truck for 300-plus kilometres is less likely.

4. Put together a security plan

In the case of an emergency, or if you know the cargo is travelling into a dangerous area, put together a security plan.

In high crime areas, for instance, you might identify alternate routes or transportation modes. It’s also important to have an emergency plan or security feature in the vehicle for the driver to activate if they realize that they’re in a dangerous situation.

5. Do the basics properly

Most importantly, do the basics. And do them right. Here are a few basic procedures that all transport businesses should ensure are in place:

  • Teach and equip drivers to be aware of their surroundings and to stay alert while driving or stopping to rest.
  • Educate them on hijacking hotspots and high-risk areas.
  • Use vehicle security cameras and/ or software. With new advancements in data storage and Wi-Fi, mobile video surveillance is now more accessible than ever to small and large fleet operators alike. These surveillance cameras can corroborate and help better ensure cargo safety.

By following these top 5 tips on ensuring the your cargo safety, you and your clients can rest assured that you have followed all possible safety measures for their shipments. There’s no way of ensuring that theft won’t ever happen, but these tips are at least the foundation of a business’s attempt to not become part of the country’s alarming hijacking statistics.

The top 4 challenges transport and logistics companies are facing in South Africa

Change is one of the only constants in life. With change, there are multiple challenges that you could face as a business owner. Just as you think you’ve got the hang of all the latest technology, you’ve improved on your administrative processes, and you’ve calculated the costs involved in all the segments of your business – everything changes. This is also true for transport and logistics companies in South Africa, who often face changes and challenges as they go about their business.

Here are the top 4 challenges the transport and logistics industry face in South Africa:

Fluctuating fuel costs

There are two main factors that determine the fuel price in South Africa – the price of oil, and the value of the Rand compared to the U.S. Dollar. With these two factors continuously fluctuating, the price of fuel is unstable and is easily changed.

As a business owner in the transport and logistics industry, sudden changes in the fuel price could mean a possible loss in profit. If a trip was budgeted for using a specific petrol price, and the price suddenly changes, the amount budgeted for would be inaccurate.

In some instances, where the price for fuel drops, you could score a bit or adjust your prices to better satisfy your customers, but with the fuel increases lately it wouldn’t have been the case for most businesses.

Rigorous business processes

A business will only thrive if the internal processes run smoothly.

With technology being ever evolving, the need for new business processes increase daily. Technology has given businesses various opportunities and applications to use to go from a manual administration process to a seamless, paperless process. It has made the administrative processes in businesses less taxing and more organised, which improves the flow of things within the business.

It has become an increasing challenge for the transport and logistics industry to keep up with all the latest technology that could improve their processes. And even if businesses did remain up to date on the latest procedures, how much is it going to cost the company, and who is going to ensure that it’s implemented successfully? Evolution is good and necessary, however it can also be challenging and costly if not approached and implemented properly.

Evolving customer service

If you heard that there’s a post about your company on Hello Peter, would you start jumping for joy?

Working with customers is always difficult. With such a variety of people in the world, trying to find the right way to please everyone is nearly impossible.

Customer service is one of the biggest factors in any business. Reviews – especially negative – spread like wildfire on all social media platforms. There is no way to prevent someone from posting something on their social media accounts, or prevent people from sharing or reacting to it, so the only thing a business can do is constantly improve their customer service and ensure that it’s always up to scratch.

People’s expectations change as frequently as their Facebook statuses, and so the level of service that was “good enough” a year or so ago, won’t be as satisfying now. Improving on the quality of customer service is a big challenge that has the ability to keep businesses on their toes, especially in the transport and logistics industry where competition is aplenty.

Stringent government regulations

Carriers face significant compliance regulations, and here in South Africa, larger fleet sizes are the norm, making the management of those fleets more complexed.

For example, transport and logistics businesses in South Africa need to ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy, that they do not exceed the permissible axle masses, that drivers are trained and in possession of all applicable permits and that they receive regular medical examinations – just to name a few.

These businesses therefore need to ensure that their internal processes are in place to stay up-to-date with regulations and the implementation thereof. Staying compliant to all regulations can be costly and time-consuming, but non-compliance could result in fines and even shutting the business down for long periods of time.

Transport and logistics companies in South Africa face many challenges that are hidden to the consumer’s eye, and the way that they respond to these challenges often determines the level of service you can expect. However, knowing that you’re opting to partner with or make use of a company that understands and faces these challenges head on goes a long way in reassuring you that you’ve made the right choice.